Pub. 11 2021-2022 Issue 1


Board Committees that Strengthen Academic Performance

Committees allow boards to operate more effectively by doing deep work outside of full board meetings. They are typically staffed with members who have specific content-rich expertise. This allows for more in-depth discussion and analysis, resulting in well-informed recommendations to the full board. Committees research and frame strategic issues, but it is important to remember that decisions are still made by the full board.

Every committee should have very clear expectations for the operations and communications of the committee. It is recommended that each time a committee meets, they prepare and submit a one-page report to the full board. This report should include those in attendance, recommendations, a high-level overview of the discussion, and action steps.

The number one priority of every charter school board is accountability for the academic performance of the school. This purpose should be a priority that is woven through all committee meetings.

Academic Excellence Committee: This committee is laser-focused on academic performance. They are tasked with measuring organization outcomes against charter goals. They should spend most of their time diving into academic benchmarks and looking at data directly related to the performance of the school.

School Leader Support & Evaluation Committee: This committee designs and develops systems and processes that support the school leader and assists them in perfecting their job. One component is a clear yearly evaluation of the school leader that is transparent and includes measurable outcomes. It is very difficult for this committee to separate the leader of the school from educational outcomes. A school leader cannot be adequately evaluated without looking at the school’s academic performance.

Governance Committee: This committee is very similar to the School Leader Support & Evaluation Committee, with one small difference. Their priority is the board. They are focused on ensuring that the board sets policies, creates conditions, and distributes resources within their school for improving student achievement. They accomplish this priority by leading the board’s recruiting strategy, conducting new board member orientation, organizing the annual retreat, assessing the board’s strengths, and securing all necessary board professional development with a focus on academic results.

Finance/Audit Committee: Often we think the focus of this committee is strictly to create the upcoming fiscal year budget, present budget recommendations to the board, monitor implementation of the approved budget, recommend sound financial policies, and ensure the audit is conducted each year. These are very important responsibilities, but without ensuring that the budget is directly tied to the academic outcomes of the school, it doesn’t matter how good they are with a spreadsheet. This committee is where the rubber hits the road. Ask yourself: does the school adequately allocate funds to ensure the academic goals of the school can be achieved?

It is key that charter school boards continue to monitor school activities to ensure that annual progress is being made, achievement gaps are closing, and the public is kept informed about student progress. Schools that make academics a focus of all their committees will continue to impact the purpose of their school and academic growth for all students.